Glasgow Riverside Museum wheelchair exhibit opens

Co-curator Alex Papanikolaou with Heather Robertson, technology curator, with a chair from WW1. Picture: John Devlin
Co-curator Alex Papanikolaou with Heather Robertson, technology curator, with a chair from WW1. Picture: John Devlin
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A NEW exhibition charting the technological advancement of the wheelchair has opened at Glasgow’s Riverside Museum.

Put together with input from a group of wheelchair users, the new trailblazing display focuses on ‘ordinary’ wheelchairs as a mode of transport, and the impact design improvements have had on users.

The co-curators selected four chairs, spanning close to 100 years in time and technological development, from 24 related objects in Glasgow Museums’ collection. The group chose schools as the target audience, developing the key theme ‘the chair doesn’t define the person.’

Alex Papanikolaou, a wheelchair user who co-curated the display, said: “Museums are usually a place people go to learn about the past.

“I think Riverside is leading the way in showcasing modern displays.

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“It has engaged the community of Glasgow and made a great effort to not only find out about the history of mobility and wheelchairs, but also to give people a real view of what it’s like to be a wheelchair user today.”

Alex added: “This is an excellent initiative and has produced a display that is both a history lesson and an insight into life from a disabled user’s point of view, I think many people will be able to relate to it and learn from it.

“I have really enjoyed working with the Riverside team and I’m delighted to see the display open for others to enjoy. “

Chair of Glasgow Life, Councillor Archie Graham, said the new exhibition gave the museum the chance to explore a ‘previously under-researched area’, adding: “We receive a great deal of positive feedback about our regular display changes at Riverside.

“We couldn’t have done it without the wheelchair users, they’ve been fantastic. I hope that the wheelchair display will act as a catalyst for conversation and contribute to that understanding.”

The display is not a de facto history of wheelchairs but instead focuses on the story of several wheelchair users, illustrating how each is unique.

The four chairs include the very first wheelchair ever made; a chair designed for developing countries and a chair used by British No 1 wheelchair tennis player Gordon Reid.

The display is open now at the Museum, between the Albion bus and Tram No. 1089 on the ground floor.

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